'Real progress' made in Stormont talks

Theresa May says time is running short for a deal

'Real progress' made in Stormont talks

Stormont, home of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Belfast | Image: RollingNews.ie

The British Prime Minister Theresa May has met with Northern Ireland's five main parties, as a deadline to form a power-sharing executive at Stormont looms.

Mrs May said: "Today I met Northern Ireland's five main parties with a clear focus on restoring devolved government to Northern Ireland as soon as possible.

"Speaking with the parties today, it was clear that real progress was made in the last round of discussions and agreement can be reached if there is good will on all sides.

"But time is running short and the parties must come together by the June 29th for the return of a strong voice at Stormont and for a brighter future for everyone in Northern Ireland."

It was announced in April that the deadline for parties there to reach a deal would be pushed out until June 29th.

The original deadline had already been further extended until after the British general election.

Mrs May added: "My government remains absolutely committed to doing everything we can to help take this process to a successful conclusion, remaining steadfast to our commitments in the Belfast Agreement and its successors.

"The Northern Ireland Secretary will continue to engage with the parties before this crucial deadline and if no resolution is reached then we will need to consider what steps we need to take, to ensure Northern Ireland has the political stability it needs."

Mrs May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also discussed the situation during a phone call on Thursday.

A Downing Street spokesperson said both leaders "would continue to engage closely on this important issue".

Mrs May has also been engaged in separate discussions with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) with a view to forming a minority Westminster government with them.

Those talks are thought to be close to a deal.

The leader of Britain’s House of Commons said the State opening of the British parliament will take place on June 21st.